Thursday, February 26, 2009

numbers 35 & 36

36. Elvis Costello, Punch the Clock. Everything's gonna be difficult from here on out. Because after you've put The Police at #37, you've gotta make damn sure that everything above really belongs. So what am I doing listing Punch the Clock at #36??? Hell, a lot of people don't even consider it one of Elvis Costello's best albums.

Well, I guess I just can't play it safe. As is true of many great albums, there isn't a weak song on here, and every song has its place. Even "Pills and Soap," probably my least favorite tune, displays some of Costello's legendarily caustic social commentary. Other songs teeter between clever pop and relationship heartache ("The Element Within Her," "Love Went Mad"), and legendary trumpeter Chet Baker hits all the right notes (ha ha) on the slow, classic "Shipbuilding." I've listened to this CD probably 5-10 times as much as any other Elvis Costello recording, so I may have grown biased over time; but then, there's a reason I've listened to it so much.

35. Moby, Play. This bastard step-child of techno and the Delta blues somehow grew into the kind of world-changing tour de force that ... sorry, that metaphor just spun out of control, and the only thing I could do was pull out. But anyhow, Moby created a unique genre with this release, and somehow made it seem effortless. The success of Play was driven in part by the hits "Porcelain" and "South Side" (if Moby'd had the foresight to put the Gwen Stefani version on the album, Play might've cracked my Top 30), but everything on here sounds beautiful and satisfying.

Moby really hasn't come close to matching the popularity of this album with anything he's done since (another common refrain on this list). Maybe because he tried to get away from the formula that worked so well here? Any Moby experts out there? You're welcome to chime in with your theories ...


CTV said...

Hmmm...I think you err in picking anything Elvis over This Year's Model. But after my Rattle and Hum debacle, who am I to judge?

Brian said...

I'm not a huge fan of Elvis Costello, but I prefer "Armed Forces" and "This Year's Model" over anything else I've heard from him. Also, the glasses he's wearing on the cover of "Punch the Clock" are so ugly that I'd get thrown out of my profession for liking this album.